There’s a popular saying that goes, “The only constant thing in life is change,” and the music producers on this list embody this philosophy.
After making hits for some of our favourite singers behind the scenes, these producers have gone on to replicate the same (or almost the same) level of success for themselves as singers in their own rights.
But of all the producer-turned-singer transitions, which one shocked fans the most and which one made us go, “Oh, yeah, this makes sense”?
Between 2014 and 2016, almost every Olamide song started with the lines, “It’s Young Jonn, the wicked producer.” He showed his “wickedness” producing songs like Story For The Gods, Bobo, Falila Keitan and Blood Money. But nothing prepared me for his 2022 EP, Love Is Not Enough or just how much I’d be obsessed with Dada, his single with Davido.
While I couldn’t place a face to the name when he was producing, now I know what Young Jonn looks and sounds like when he’s singing. And let’s just say, I’m totally here for it.
I can’t recap 2022 without talking about how we were all shouting, “If I broke na my business!” at the top of our voices. It didn’t matter whether we were at the club or on a long queue for spicy rice at Chicken Republic, Pheelz and BNXN’s Finesse has been everywhere this year.
But before becoming a household name and badass performer (this video lives rent-free in my head), Pheelz was always behind the scenes and in his producer bag creating major hits like Durosoke for Olamide, Billionaire for Teni, Scatter for Fireboy DML and Pick Up for Adekunle Gold. No one was doing it like Pheelz as a producer and it looks like he’s moved that energy to his singing as well. Love it!
What do Orezi’s Rihanna, Davido’s Fall, Mr Eazi and DJ Neptune’s Marry and Mayorkun’s Mama all have in common? Yes, you guessed right — it’s Kiddominant’s special touch. Even though he’d churned out major hits as a producer, I was still shocked to hear his voice singing the chorus on AKA’s Fela in Versace. Since then, Kiddominant has dropped an EP and changed the spelling of his name to KDDO.
Nigerian artists are taking this rebranding thing seriously.
Cutting his teeth behind the scenes as a UK-based producer creating bangers for Wizkid, Maleek Berry made a big shift becoming an artist with songs like Kontrol, Eko Miami and the unforgettable Juice with Ycee. You had to be there for his 2016 EP, Last Daze of Summer. Someone needs to bring Maleek back because the streets miss his vocals for real.
Technically, we heard Don Jazzy’s voice on D’banj’s Tongolo when it dropped back in in 2005. Even though some of us thought it would be a one-time thing, as producers sometimes make vocal cameos on their songs, Don Jazzy has become one of the most sought-after Nigerian singers. And he does this while running a massive record label, producing hits for everyone from Burna Boy to Ruger, and killing it as a social media influencer.
Does he have two heads, or are the rest of us just lazy? These are the questions.
Many of us didn’t even know Tekno was a producer until his career blew up as a singer. From rhyming Lagbaja with Gwagwalada on Pana to calling out all the tribal female names he could find on Duro, we’ve all come to know Tekno as a big hitmaker. But while working as an upcoming musician, Tekno produced songs for Bracket, Victoria Kimani, Ice Prince. After he “blew”, he produced If for Davido in 2017.
Guys, his first hit as a producer was his own song, so it just makes sense that Davido is the least surprising producer-to-artist transition story on this list. While Davido had produced for Dammy Krane, everything changed when he dropped his debut single, Back When, and we all heard him say, “On the beat, it’s Davido.”
Breaking out as a producer and an artist simultaneously is a major feat. But if there was anyone who could pull it off, it had to be OBO himself.